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Tony Grist

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University Of Life? [Mar. 16th, 2005|10:43 am]
Tony Grist
I knew a woman once who reckoned that she'd had lots and lots of incarnations and every one of them had ended in suicide.

Most she had forgotten, but there was one especially vivid one where she was a trembling young thing who had been married off, by way of alliance, to the bearish chieftain of one of thoise tribes where they eat with their hands then throw the bones about. She could still picture the dribbled food in his big red beard.

That life ended with her jumping off a cliff.

But she reckoned that this time round she finally had it in her to make old bones.

The underlying philosophy is that we have lessons to learn- and every life gives us another crack at the current problem. If we solve it, we get to move on to the next. If we don't solve it we keep coming back to take the same exam over and over again.

Do I believe in this? Well, no, of course not, but I'm willing to entertain it as a theory.

So who devised the curriculum?

And don't say the Great White Brotherhood, because I utterly refuse to be doing with any Great White Brotherhood.

The Great Black Sisterhood?

Now that's more like it!

[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-16 05:27 am (UTC)
Like swimming lessons: in Station One, you learn to hold your breath under water. Station two, you learn to flutter your feet while holding onto the edge of the pool.

It's always the grownups, isn't it, who devise such curricula?

Now, having followed your thought (and it's a built-in prejudice that I hadn't considered this before), I picture a somber group of heavenly middle managers sitting around a table with a stack of folders.

I've been reading John Shelby Spong, and he's bound to color my thinking for at least the next few days. He said, in his latest (and possible the last) book about his religious views, "I have...sought to escape the pseudo-security that traditional Christianity has pretended to provide...which [produces]...an immature person who needs to be taken care of by the supernatural parental deity...."

He continues by quoting Bonhoeffer: "Before God and with God we live without God." ... Spong says: "The religious promise to proved the security that enables one to cope with life's intransigence has become for me...a delusion...."

I have no idea where he is going, but I have a glimpse in Bonhoeffer's full quote, which is the frontispiece of this book:

Our coming of age leads us to a true recognition of our situation before God. God would have us know that we must live as those who manage out lives without God. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us. he God who lets us live in te world without the working hypothesis of God is the God before whom we stand continuously. Before God and with God we live without God.

..God is weak and powerless in the world and that is precisely the way, the only way in which he is with us to help us.

---Sorry to use your own journal as a forum, but this is a fascinating new concept to me, and seems to fold into what you are saying as well.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-16 06:49 am (UTC)
Bonheffer- that takes me back.

I studied him at theological college. A great good man. Not only a great theologian, but one of the few Christian leaders to resist Hitler.

The words of such a man have authority.

I'm not quite sure I understand what he's saying (intellectually) but I feel the emotional truth of it.

"Before God and with God we live without God"

Grand words. A rallying cry.

God isn't a parent or a boss, but a comrade.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-16 07:00 am (UTC)
I have felt for very long that I had nowhere to wander in the theological forest of the established church. Spong (for all his possible grandstanding) is passionate and succinct.

He IS thinking for himself.

While I read Bonhoeffer, I had in front of my eyes your nimble image from yesterday of a god who was a "pumpkinhead on a stick"--somehow it seemed apt when thinking about the bogeyman god constructed over the centuries by religions.

I have got to get to the bottom of this. I wish I were smarter; I tend to stumble and ask for guidance.

My mind tells me to be brave and think for myself, but it's dark in the woods, and even if I'm on a path I can't see it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-16 07:13 am (UTC)
I don't see that Spong is grandstanding. Unless it's grandstanding to dare to stand apart from the crowd, unless it's grandstanding to be a prophet.

I'm reminded of a saying of Eckhart's

"Man's last and highest parting occurs when, for God's sake, he takes leave of God."

The dark wood is the place of visions.

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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-16 05:08 pm (UTC)
Eckhardt also said: "I pray God that he will deliver us from god," which was quoted recently by seraphimsigrist.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-17 12:48 am (UTC)
God is a human construct. We are constantly outgrowing "Him". The God whom the fundamentalists believe in is basically the 17th century model, with 19th century accessories.

It's now well over a century since Nietzsche pronounced God dead.
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